Formulating the perfect system
SRL Ranbaxys CLIMS, a home-grown ERP solution, was
the first of its kind in the healthcare segment. It helped centralise and consolidate
business-critical information and made it easier for customers to get data.
by Shivani Shinde
G Radhakrishna Pillai
SRL Ranbaxy needs no introduction. An Indian success story in the healthcare
sector, the company operates out of a central laboratory in Mumbai and has 15
satellite labs across the country servicing more than 365 Indian cities and
other countries (Britain, UAE, Sri Lanka, and Nepal).
SRLs Centralised Lab Information Management System (CLIMS) is the result
of integrating all its processes into a single system. The company could have
bought a packaged ERP system, but due to the nature of the processes, it deployed
an in-house ERP customised to its needs.
The power of the solution to centralise information and advanced features such
as encrypted Web and e-mail-based reporting provide a great deal of flexibility
to the business. This initiative has helped the company bag the Intelligent
Enterprise award in the healthcare category.
Need For CLIMS
As G Radhakrishna Pillai, Head of IT at SRL Ranbaxy explains, In healthcare
services a complete enterprise application package is not available locally
or outside the country. Whats available are a few Lab Information Systems
(LIS) or Hospital Information Systems (HIS). Even the LIS is not a complete
Prior to adopting CLIMS, the company used an LIS which was not Y2K-complaint,
did not support other business functions, and had no support available in India.
So we decided to tailor-make an application to support all the process
of our central reference lab. It was difficult for us to decide whether to go
ahead with a tailor-made application to suit us and which would match international
standards and protocols, adds Pillai.
CLIMS now includes lab-operations, material management, billing, financial accounting,
customer care, sales and marketing, logistics, clinical trail, and an instrument
However, deciding on a home-grown solution was not an easy decision to make.
Pillai says that one of the choices was to select any of the packaged LIS systems
and integrate it with a standard ERP system to address the needs of other business
functions. Initially, the company outsourced the development work to a CMM level
5 company, but later all development activities was done by a dedicated in-house
Another reason for using an in-house system was the inability ERP players to
offer solutions that would combine the functionalities of lab management and
other business operations such as materials and accounts.
Centralise And Consolidate
Winning an award always gives a good feeling and
generates positive energy within the team and also within the enterprise.
My team and I feel charged up after receiving the recognition, especially
since it is from The Indian Express group. It has encouraged us to strive
G Radhakrishna Pillai
Earlier, technology support came from the parent company and
LIS was used only for lab operations. Thus, SRL Ranbaxy was using a heterogeneous
system for various functions (FACT for accounts and a billing system called
Delta). Though the LIS took care of the scientific side of operations it did
not have the functionalities of an ERP, where aspects such as bill receivables,
material and client management are more relevant.
Since there was no centralised system, normal or basic testing was done at the
local lab but depending on the nature of the test the specialised testing was
done at the Central Lab. Even though customers were dealing with SRL, they would
end up with two invoices. Similarly, a single client would have two different
IDs, one for the local lab and the other for the Central Lab, which was duplication
of work at the accountants end.
This is why the company needed to centralise and consolidate
data from the LMS to the Central Lab. Says Pillai, In June 2004, we decided
to develop a centralised system with more features and also migrate the back-end
Oracle database from 8i to 9i and front-end from Powerbuilder 7 to Powerbuilder
9. We also Web-enabled some of the MIS and transaction reports using .NET technology.
All instruments have been interfaced bi-directionally as well as uni-directionally
depending on the analysers capability. Over a period of time we
have acquired in-house expertise in interfacing instruments compliant to any
of the RS232 or ASTM protocols, says Pillai. Due to this they have fully-automated
the testing process by reducing manual intervention by the scientific officers.
- Wockhardt Limited's HIRePs, which is a
Hospital Information System (HIS) based on MS Windows server system
integrated server software at its hospitals in Mumbai, Nagpur, Hyderabad
- Fortis Healthcare's HIS deployed in four
hospitals and one city OPD serving different market segments and spread
across North India. The system automated IPD & OP billing, and allowed
Pillai believes that IT has been the backbone of SRLs
operations from day one. Over a period of time it has helped improve efficiency,
accuracy, and service quality to assist doctors and patients to optimise healthcare.
In turn, SRL has become an IT-driven knowledge company.
Today, explains Pillai, the company is totally dependent on IT from end-to-end.
Even though we are in the business of diagnostics, if IT stops, everything
will come to a standstill. SRLs business criticality is much more crucial
than many financial companies because we have to serve on a 24x7 basis. Any
delay in service will cause not only a business loss for the company but could
also be a loss for the patient.
I do not think that this kind of an enterprise-wide application is available
anywhere else in the world, says Pillai. This is because, in the healthcare
segment, application developers focus more on the core operation area rather
than other support areas that are critical to the business.
SRLs Centralised Lab Information Management System
has revolutionised the diagnostics result delivery mechanism by introducing
encrypted e-mail and Web-based reporting thereby creating a first-mover
advantage for the company
SRLs new system is being used in 16 labs nationwide
by doctors who prescribe the test, along with around 275 internal users, 300
franchisee collection centres, 3,000-odd clinical labs, and hospitals. In the
Central Lab the company processes and creates reports for more than 3,500 patients
in any single day.
Leading The Way
Pillai believes that this is the first-of-its-kind system in the healthcare
sector. These systems have revolutionised the diagnostics result delivery mechanism
by introducing encrypted e-mail and Web-based reporting thereby creating a first
mover advantage for the company. The advantages include Turn Around Time (TAT)
saving since maximum reports are sent electronically, report delivery is not
dependent on courier efficiency and is not affected by courier/airline staff
strike, national bandhs, and climatic conditions. The company is able to provide
an uninterrupted service.
Other than the improvement in TAT, productivity and accuracy of the testing
at the pre and post-analytical stages have improved. In some of the high volume
sections such as biochemistry, endocrinology, haematology, 50 percent of the
staff can now invest their time in other productive work.
Bar coding of all the samples has been done for better tracking as well as for
the instrument to understand that a test has been completed for a particular
Roadmap: Repository and DR
The future roadmap of the company entails connecting all the laboratories to
the central reference lab and five labs have already been connected. All the
remaining and upcoming labs will be connected within a year, which will enable
SRL to have a large data depository for the patient disease and test information.
This will also work as a DR site for local labs.
I want to make the homegrown ERP as a product so that continuous improvement
in the process and technology will be a part of the strategy. We will also endeavour
to maintain a global standard in the operation, says Pillai.
Started: October 2004
Completed: March 2005
Cost: Rs 53 lakh
Objective: To create a system that is centralised
and information is consolidated. To make use of barcoded sample tagging
and bi-directional interface with analysers, recipes analysis, result
reporting (Web or e-mail based), centralised Customer Care Group (CCG),
centralised accounting, and MIS consolidation.
Innovation: Achieving the objectives has
been the biggest innovation for SRL. The company uses bar coding and instrument
interfaces to make identification easier. It also uses encrypted e-mail
and Web-based reporting, and consumption vs recipe and stock management.